Tom Phillips was a Civil War veteran and a farm hand. Around Boulder, Illinois, he was considered somewhat peculiar. He was not companionable. When he was working in the fields with other men, he would manage somehow to get off by himself, away from the rest of the workers. When he was not working, he usually would be found reading from some book. He always wore a white shirt - setting him apart in a region of homespun and calico. Tom loved Alice.
The only thing we know about Alice is that she loved Tom. Alice's mother, however, had no use for Tom Phillips. She tried her best to break up the romance. But the two were determined, and were married in spite of mother's objections.
Hard times came to the Boulder area. Tom left the community, and Alice, to find work and an income elsewhere. Weeks passed. Not one word did Alice get about her absent husband.
Mother seems to have made the most of the opportunity to discredit Tom. "You've seen the last of that man - and good riddance" Alice was told over and over. "He has taken up with another woman, or he'd write." This, and much more, Alice had to listen to day after day.
Alice worried, she lost weight. Her health failed. She died. And it seems that the last words she heard were imprecations against her husband.
Mother was wrong with her "I told you so's." Tom Phillips did return to Boulder. And he had been loyal to his Alice. He learned of the death of his wife and how mother, with her constant carping, seemingly had been instrumental in breaking Alice's spirit, and her health, and in causing her death.
In retaliation, Tom ordered a head stone to place at Alice's grave saying she was talked to death by her mother. His friends convinced him to make a change and the inscription, which may be seen today, reads: